Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tumne Mujhe Dekha Hokar Meherban

That earlier postNo no no "unpartitioning"... and no no no Channeling The Voice of the State, or that the Internet Is Wrong. That post was written in great anger, definitely hastily written, and trying to say how  exasperated I was that the more things change the more they remain the same..I have been an insider/outsider to India since 1997.
Yes , when it comes to the long long history of all that plagues the region , sixteen years is but a moment. But there are days when I wonder Kab Tak. And then this ad happens, and I think for a minute "perhaps it is because we just have these pressure cooker moments, where we cry and vent" and go on to our Regular Programming lives the next moment. Waiting till another feel good, but not requiring anything other than sharing a videos, opportunity.

that nothing in the ad challenges a certain discourse everyone is comfortable with is another issue.

Khair,  I would rather we watch this video. That Rocky could sing this for Yaum-e-Azaadi..Independence Day is so so remarkable. And that one could say Yaum-e-Azaadi Mubarak in the 1960s and no one said Hain? Ye Kiya Kaha? Is it Persian? Iski Hindi Google Karo 
well that is just the icing on the cake.
Or jhajjariya.
Chalo jhajaariya hi sahai

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Haalat Pe Rona Aaya

So I have been having a chat with friends why I am not feeling the love when it comes to the Fair and Lovely-isation of partition memories, of history, of closure. There is a problem when one comes up with naive approaches to what vexes us. Don’t go into a gendered, class, colour inquiry into why Preeto from next door didn’t cut it for that high flying job—slap on some fairness lotion and it will all be OK.
I wish I knew why I was so angry. Is it because like everything else, an angst that has plagued my generation, is now up for “commodification” too?  Forget problematic ideas of nationalism, bureaucracy, foreign policy, visa regimes, the military industrial complex—all that we needed was a better search engine.
Am I exhausted with more of this It Aint Getting Fixed Until YOU Come Over And Make Up.  This, this subtext...we left and I am not coming back, even if I miss you so. That the “happily every afters” can only happen recreating a bit of Lahore in Delhi. For you know who watches cricket, flies kites, fumbles with biryani IN A LAHORE KITCHEN. Civilization, culture, humour tou him is paar le aaye. For across Wagah is where the Wild Things Are.
Or am I amused with how Dadaji ki mithai ki dukaan tou hadap hi li paying for that overpriced air ticket..For let us just sanitise any mention of crossing on foot, trains; lest Train to Pakistan starts coming up in their Google search results.
Or is it because I cannot take any more of this “baat nikli tou har ek baat pe rona aaya” approach towards our lives here, memories of there. That you have a good cry, vent and then make peace with status quo. Forever conflict avoidance, never conflict resolution. Having these Hallmark, ah! I have something in my eye episodes just reminds me of how Merinissi has referred to women and shrine/sanctuary culture.  It is therapeutic for them as they could then openly give vent to their emotions: grief, frustration et al—but then it also robs them of the ability and energy to bring about any change. For surprise, surprise there is no anger left in them anymore. And until there is anger, dear Google there can be no change. I would have rather the ad agency had been given a different brief, get them angry enough to change the way things are for them, help them search for a way that friends do not keep pining for each other in different ISD codes.

Throw that up for me in my search results, please, for I am done crying. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Tis the season of PG Wodehouse. 
In fact I have contemplated calling up the newspaper vendor to cancel the dailies, replacing them with a Wodehouse each morning instead 
I approach the newspapers with a wooden spoon, poking them around a bit. They have delivered enough heart attacks; I now expect the horrors to slither out from between the folds of the paper . Groping, gliding. Waiting to strike me  down.
So yes I have rediscovered Wodehouse.
And I sit in the armchair chuckling.
And A sidles up "Why Are You Laughing,Mama?"
"Oh it is something I am reading. It is really funny, let me explain," and then looking at him, I add, a little bit unkindly I must say "But you cant read, can you? Yes it is very difficult to explain".
Patting him on his head "You learn to read OK and then you will understand all these jokes".

The next day, and the day after that, and the day after..A sits in his car seat, or is brushing his teeth, or is finishing breakfast or playing in the park and will burst into giggles. Like really full bellied, contagious laughter, and you ask him curious. "Why Are You Laughing?"
And he "Oh it is something really funny...but" and here he looks up at me, eyes glinting "But it is so difficult to explain. Oh look I have to take a bath".

So yes A :12 Mom: 0

This afternoon he settles down and placing his hands in his lap, asks me earnestly
" You know"
"My school..-----School" (Name withheld for I do not know the school's privacy regulations)
"They sing the ABC song. But they sing GHIJK Ellomennemmopee. What is this Ellomennemmopee? It is Ell Emm Enn Ohhh Peeeee. Ell Emm Enn Ohhh Peeeee. Why do they sing this Ellomenemoopee?"
" Cant tell. It is probably for when you grow up to  have something to blog about."

In other news we have a new driver who drove a Gypsy for the Dilli Police before.
Consider Project Extreme Makeover beginning now. Seat Belts for him check, Stopping at Red Light check. Kiyonke Madam Gypsy me Tou Ye Seat Belt Waghera Tou Nahi Tha. And Sir ko kabhi bhi kacheri jaana partha tou ye red light wed light....
But he is so polite. Always in our seva "Madam Koi Chinta Ki Baat Nahi"

So how have you all been? 
Let me sign off now with the only ABC I can remember

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Baat karni mujhe mushkil kabhi aisi to na thi le gayaa chheen ke kaun aaj teraa sabr-o-qaraar?

...but it is true, I might have been reticent about writing about certain issues in the past but never shied away from logging in. As Gulzar wrote for Aandhi "Waise to amaavas pandra dinon ke hothi hai, lekin is baar bahut lambi thhi ", so why am I taking these long breaks?

And what did I do in these long moonless nights?
Whiled away days in Phuket, Bangkok, Berlin, Budapest, Helisnki, Amritsar, Goa
and brief periods in Delhi
(cue in Haiii!)

But I could have been sitting in my study in my chair as I do now
Coaxing my words off the ledge
Thinking Thinking Thinking
What Next? What Next?

What will be my legacy? 
Why have I lost the plot?

But today it is difficult.

Today we will go through my album for the past couple of months

We went to the aquarium and reptile house in Berlin yesterday.
" So what do you want to see first?" I ask him. "MOSQUITOES!" he tells me
This is Helsinki. Suomenlinna to be preciseCan't tell you how tempted we are to fire A all the way to Estonia

Hvitträsk, Kirkkonummi
Oittaa. Could there be more consonants?
Burnt to a crisp in Budapest. Or as Bhansali would rush to assure you Italy
The Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf Tsunami for Change Slogan would be a total fail here in Khao Lak

Kar Doo Status Update? Having Lunch With The Wahe Gurus in Amritsar?
Ruet e Hilal Committee Goa Branch..waiting waiting waiting for the Eid moon to be sighted
Ek Tum Hi Nahi Tanha Ulfat Me Mere Ruswa Is Sheher Me Pindi Mardan Se Mastane Hazro Hain. I believe for a certain amount your pledge becomes a part of living history at the Golden Temple. Amidst the ubiquitous grants from martyrs and military units posted to the city; there were also interesting stories . Who were they? Saw pledges from Pindi. This one mentions a thou rupees from Sangat Peshoriya!
Also 51 rupees from  Bibi Sant Kaur and Kaka Jaswant Singh from Mardan.

I was in Amritsar to pick up my niece who you may remember from her trip to Melbourne in 2009. This time she was crossing over from Wagah/Attari...such an interesting time to visit, though I realise the young may have no occasion for history.
some thoughts as I wait this side for her to cross over.

# The morning had started with watching Sur Kshetra on TV. Ghulam Ali et Asha Bhosle singing duets over the expanse thats Runa Laila squeaking Bangladesh Ko Na Bhuliye!Stuff writes itself.
..#Ok Attari paar. Zaara mode on.
.#Me (to the driver) Next time please take me to galli where Manto lived
Driver ji: Aap next time aayengi aap ko kuan dikhaonga jahan Luv Kush ke kapde dhule
#Sister and me fight over Whatsapp across Wagah. This could make for a lovely short story.
#Lovely songs on at the Attari Passenger Terminal. KARMA ka soundtrack . Assuming they are Dilip Kumar Nutan fans
#It starts raining They take down the Indian tiranga Stops. Fly it again. And I WOULD GET exhausted when my mum said take in laundry take out
#Guard telling me Ethru Baith jaa. Wapas nahi jaande wali aap di niece. My sister whatsapping me niece's A level results as they got out just then. Me shouting them over the customs to the niece.The things these borders hear.
#Guards congratulate me over her results!Fun!!
#Indian custom guard to niece: AAP KE ADAAB BAHUT ACHE HAIN. Niece : Thankss.(Whatsapps me: pssstt what's ADAAB? )

We all returned happily ever after.

I went up and down in the Shatabdi where at one point they served me heart shaped veg cutlets which I took as a very fortuitous sign.

Is se aage ki kahani koi na pooche.
Heart is heavy
Words go out to play Without permission
Prayers from me to you

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ruk Ruk Ruk Arey Baba Ruk

I think this city has been good for me . Or perhaps it is motherhood. But I have been pretty OK with the election results.
Making me a demographic of ummm Total Population: 1,

But I think I am counting our blessings.

For you see I cannot recognize the party (formerly known as PPP) in its avatar today. And but for a day before the elections  my Facebook DP still unchanged (though I did support this...the ANP as I loved it, on my twitter TimeLine)
But then someone shared this with me.

And I started listening to 

Until Arhaan entered the room " MAMA I AM TRYING TO SLEEP"

(sigh! I HATE Naya Pakistan)

So yes, nothing can bring back BB. And I realise it  has been two elections without her. 

And yes the PM-to-be has ALL THAT HISTORY what with my  mom being beaten up and our dog killed and the heart break when he pressed the nuclear button but I am still OK with the election results and as I said counting our blessings. Here we have a civilian government that completed it's term. A Pakistan  that is no longer apathetic. Turning up to vote in spite of bomb threats. Friends who have signed up to be part of the process like becoming polling agents next time! And the Kaptaan will always have Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a laboratory for his Naya Pakistan experiment.

I am also very proud of my fellow Pakhtuns...KP whom certain people have reviled for so long saved their sorry revolution,and also when some of the same(as ANP) lost they showed Pakistan how to be gracious in defeat.

And for NS ki Waapsi.
Who knows , they may surprise us yet.
For remember Tabu?

And Ab Dekhe? Yes Bilkul JUST THAT

Meanwhile my DesiMartini Movie Jockeying gig has been turning out well. An excerpt from my review came up here.

And the other day Hindustan Times carried something by me on motherhood


I had been condescending towards Delhi. In my one month avatar as student in the city, as the self-important person on conference visits. Moving in 2012 as  Bhabhiji,  mom to a pre-schooler changed that. Somehow I was at peace with the loneliness that motherhood brings. I live in a world where most of my significant relationships are conducted in cyber space. Dad tucks the kid into bed over Skype. Grandmother oversees her grandson’s lunch over a webcam.

Delhi allowed us to run outdoors, play amongst its built history in spring, attend open air concerts, pick up thirty rupee puppets, ride toy trains, walk to school picking up silk cotton flowers for the teacher.

Come summer, the heat gave us permission to treat ourselves the gift of getting bored. In Delhi we decided to be a TV free household. Sundays there was no going out,  the help's day off, no pressure to be productive. Lying around in pyjamas, reading the papers, playing board games with the boy. By evening dying to go out for a walk. We would, but quickly run off to buy ice-creams, cold chach from Mother Dairy. Coming home to a shower, looking forward to Monday! It was like a spa for the mind, minus calculating tips for aromatherapy sessions.

Fall and Dussehra season made for interesting conversations.

8am panic attacks by 3 year olds WHERE IS SITA DU-PATTA, MAMA? WHERE IS SITA DU-PATTA? He has grown all self righteous my boy, pulling Sita's ghoonghat to her knees , parading the paper puppet like a triumphant banner. I push him in a stroller to school "Let her breathe yara", his words awaken dormant memories of visiting my village in Pakistan, a chador covering my face. But his little heart does not relent. In Delhi he has signed up for the Moral Police.

He channels our tirade about Delhi’s infamous traffic sense.

 "Ravan is so naughty so naughty Mama. HE DOESNT LOOK AT THE GREEN MAN CROSSING THE ROAD. DOESNT LOOK LEFT RIGHT". He is also indignant that Ravan is not returning Sita, but  mostly the bad traffic sense. I go to sleep giggling at the image of a ten-headed Ravan at the traffic lights looking left right left right while a Sita squawks at his side trying to wriggle her wrist away. 

By December I have a fortnightly salon at my place where my  people come over for a meal , "scintillating conversation" ; my husband and boy just a room away so I am never in a rush to be with them. I was finally home.

But soon the city reminds me that I have been altruistic about motherhood courtesy a tadka of selfishness. That it is class, my location that provides for a rape suraksha kavach.  Playing Happy Families dressed for comfort not a character certificate. Chasing Arhaan in parks with the guard at the gate keeping Delhi away. Putting up the bubble that helps me push April’s newspapers under the sofa. I cant afford not to listen.

Aneela Z Babar is a  researcher/anthropologist dividing her time between writing on gender, popular culture,militarism; and telling people her son is toilet trained sleeping through the night. She lives with her husband who is a development worker and a boy who is toilet trained sleeping through the night.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai

I have signed up as a Movie Jockey at
You SHOULD now start following me at
and if you like my reviews, do do give it the thumbs up.

..and I have to tell you about the time I left Arhaan with the dad and escaped to the hills for a while. Supposedly to volunteer at the Haji Public School, but mostly to you know discover myself, read uninterrupted, riding horses, hiking, eating organic food...practically a Diane Lane film.
I was all Waheeda...

Though what stays me with me is driving back to Jammu. The moon rising over the river and the Bahu Fort, eyes off the speedometer, and you realise this, this trip is the only reason why the good music gods gave us THIS

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tujh Se Naraaz Nahi Zindagi...

I had planned that I would for this post..out of respect to the theme..drop the "reference to song" link. I think I picked up this whole, respect-music-frivolous songs-serious moments tamasha while listening to radio shows in Pindi. They would break for azaan, and it was just not DONE for RJs to nonchalantly resume their inane Urdu-English banter, so they would have a naat, an ad break and then let the party and prattle begin.

We did things differently back then. Still do.

Come school getting off, all of us would tumble out of the school gates and line up near the school wall. Congregate in the parking lot. Run up and down the foot path. Wait, wait, wait for someone to pick us up. You always waited outside the gates as a kid, even if you were the last one left, a forlorn figure next to a huge school bag.  Of course when you grew up to be a college student, you had to wait inside the compound , behind the gates, until the chowkidar  had identified your car, your "regular" driver, your guardian. For you know college girls are less mature than an eight year old, college girls are so trusting of any stranger who might offer them candy.

Just as we could go merrily to the shooting range, singing Bollywood songs no less, with nary a permission letter that we have joined the National Cadet Cor. Permission letters are for pleasure trips, Yes My Daughter May Go To The Museum of Natural History (where an exhibit may or may not fall on her. But its no live ammunition right?)

So your grandmother WOULD give you the talk (even though they were yet to come up with the lexicon of good touch bad touch) But grandmothers had their Good People Bad People right, so they would warn you about taxi drivers (when you had never taken taxis), and they might throw in the men loitering about on the streets (so ALWAYS take "someone" with you, where someone means anyone with a penis, which meant a 24 year old you has to take the eight year old son of a gardener along if you want to walk to the tailors. Now that we live in the time of Home Shopping Network I can refer to that whole episode as my own personal nazar suraksha kavach Elsewhere I referred to cars as portable seclusion,  you know "mobile purdahs". There is a whole business opportunity waiting for mobile penises. Dont Molest, We Too Have Penes At Home). So yes where was I? Grandmother wanted you to beware of taxi drivers, loiterers, shopkeepers, friend's brothers and their cousins. Men have bad intentions. And before you could cower away she would add a But Dont Fear Your Uncles, Cousins OK. Not Family.

But its 90% family Grandmother?

And I now think Grandmother sab jaanti hai.

We are such a " we will put it right" generation. Our mothers did it all wrong, we complain. They hushed it up.  Invited our molesters to our weddings. Our aunts hemmed and hawed and said I Dont Know Why This One Is Creating Such A Racket, We All Suffered It. So we make check lists now, exchange stories,share numbers of counselors, and we hover over our kids. But even then it happens. 

So you remove the TV sets so none of the outside noise gets into your house, I am an ostrich, look at me , my head under the sand, but the newspapers slip under the door until you to ask in trepidation Is It Safe To Look At The Headlines Today? I will never know what it is with the cities I live in. It cant just be popular music and lyrics (In '47 you raped women and carved Allah and Hey Ram on their breasts, sliced up their stomachs with nary a Yo Yo Honey Singh blaring from your houses. And you did it again in the coming years, and you will do it again tomorrow. With iron rods, with bottles, with...which makes all these suggestions for castration as deterrent oh so.. where do I begin? ). What is it about the female body you hate so? Or let me rephrase that, also the little boys, men from communities that are The Other. What is it? Why this anger? They say by reporting each and every act of violence might make for apathy in us, the reader.  Really? For I can recite you the hundred ways we are hated each day. And it is not about a failure of policing, whether it is the vigilant state, or a paranoid mother , and then again it is ALL about the police state at times. At times the wrong lies in compensation, (for I will scream do you know what compensation means "you are offsetting a deficiency", chalo chalo ab Dettol wali koi choutt nahi. We kissed it and made it betterwhether when you offer marriage as compensation (nothing to see here, matter resolved, the two parties have reconciled, now no need to get into that, panchayat, judge sahib knows best), or when it is  money (or even a flat) will this make the hurt go away? so I cant understand why we got in a huff about hush money? Was it the amount that scandalized us? Add a couple of zeroes and that might have changed the response?

At least our generation is angry.

Small mercies.

But still so many questions.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sab Bhijwa Do. Mera Woh Saaman Lauta Do

Dear God ji,

No. No. I am not one of those. I am not going to start with ..BUT WHAT KIND OF GOD WOULD ALLOW THIS?

Or ask you to answer a "But Islam tou kehta hai"

Listen na!

Watch me, watch me
See, see. I am not even embarking on a theological-social-political-geostrategic-land rights-generational Islam approach towards ...oh I am not even asking you a YE KIYA HO RAHA HAI. Arey nary a mention of Wahabism, no Iran, no blaming Zia, Fevicol. Oye, wo sab gaye tel leyne. Sorry, I meant oil ki pipelines lene. I don't want to understand anything, no no, dont whisper me the identity of NaMaloom Afrad. None of this.

All I am asking God ji for is a return of 

1) School. Urdu class. Mrs Mustafa. Of waiting for Muharram and asking her for water breaks. UNLIMITED WATER BREAKS. Na kareyngi. Yazid Hain Kiya? Now, when someone speaks of her, they speak of the bomb that was lobbed at her house. "Why do they have to  fly the alam over their house? Iran hai kiya?" God ji, of course we understand all this now. Women Ask For It When They Wear Mini Skirts, Houses Too When They Wear An Alam. Mrs. Mustafa, Satellite Dishes Are OK I hear.  But you know me God ji, sometimes I think Mrs Mustafa would rather risk little girls emotionally blackmailing her into bunking classes for they are suddenly thirsty. So, if you could just...

2) Our self righteousness. Hum. Yes, go ahead, hum a tune. Crack a joke. Hawwwww, Muharram hai! You are singing, laughing! Now, we are such good Muslims, who wastes their piety on a colour-fragrance-music detox. But if just for a day, we could...

3) Khushbakht Shujaat. The ten minutes of dismay as you put on the TV to her and her coterie of black and white. Oho wasnt today an episode of...? Oh Ashura, Majlis on TV, phir  the drama postponed till next week? Then, what do we?..Enthusiasm dwindling. Yes, if this Ashura if you could please return that listlessness instead of this  feeling of dread as we approach the TV , this, this sickening, sinking, sinking, feeling as news starts coming in...

4) Of when we would just spit in each other's food. Or not. Did they? Oh but the rice tastes so good, omnom, hai do they? But its so delicious, omnomnomnom. Chalo, for sharing their suspect rice and haleem for so long, we feed them with  bullets, do a tadka of bombs. Let it not be said we dont repay our debts, but if sometimes we could just return to food and our litany of So do they? Really? In This? Omnomnomnom.

5) When you could if  you were asked "But Are You Shia? Fasting, No Music, No New Clothes" 
wave them off with a
But My Grandmother Is From Quetta and Even If You Are Sunni In That City You...

You What?
Hmm. You What?

Tell Me na God,

You have hidden all my answers from me, release them please?

All these memories are mine, you know that. May I have them back for one afternoon?  Will you return them. Now?Now??

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ye Larki Zara Sa Deewani Lagti Hai...

So where were we? Yes. Christmas in Melbourne. Khaaya Peeya, Bahut maza aaya. Opened the garage door to take a look at the suitcases and furniture and reminded myself once more "See you can spend four years without needing all this", then promptly rolled up some rugs and books, Chalo let me show you what Delhi is all about. Arey, they have feelings too.

We spent most of January in Bangkok, well the Dad and Bub did. I was in hell. Somehow it is difficult to go all haha hee hee or get hysterical over a three year old eating shrimps and puking his guts out if there are 80 families sitting in -8 cold, their loved ones in coffins waiting waiting for anyone to wake up and take notice. Lather, rinse, repeat after a fortnight. And the heavens poured, and the earth renders apart, and people have babies, lose babies. And you wonder, wonder how do you get through the day ...all the time responsible for making sure you do not muck up your kid's childhood. I am really confused most days, do you start hinting to kids Hey It Is A Scary World Out There And You Really Lucked Out (with what a dear friend one joked as the "sperm lottery") or do you just keep it at bay and tell them, say when they are 8, "Surprise ! we fucked up and things are really bad outside your little bubble". Or again we could roll up our sleeves and clean up whatever we can before they grow older and wiser. That would be a lovely gift you know, making it a better world and they never have to know how scary things were for a while. I have been thinking really hard about the ripple effect and taking responsibility and perhaps each one of us ("knowingly or unknowingly" as they say) could have been one cog in the wheel of hate, it could be that I was the snowball that set this avalanche into motion and now we are waist deep in it. So I have started by apologizing to all whom I know whose lives have changed by what is happening. Picking up the phone and apologizing before condoling. And being more conscious. And ethical in my life choices (I hope). 

There was a time I could tut tut and  tell myself Ah Well It Is A Sign The World Is Ending, See! See! All Signs. Qayamat Ki Nishani. Kalyug, Kalyug.
But frankly once you have weaned a child, toilet trained him, got him into his own bed and (YES! Mithai all around) GOT HIM INTO BIG SCHOOL. the world cant end on you. Well  just not yet, OK!

There is so much of AR Rahman and Lata I can listen to as therapy (read previous post); so I  got through horrible horrible January by hanging around at cat cafes. Such a brilliant idea and if you see from the images we are all smiling and happy. 

Of course if you are not a cat person (but why aren't you, huh, huh) you may find sitting in a bouncy castle while three dozen small children somersault around you, also quite  therapeutic.

You should also get some Stella Gibbons in your life. Combine that with sitting in one corner of those indoor play area in  malls, you know the padded rubber cages, and you could be in heaven. Or at least I was, when I would take one of her books and curl up in a corner while Arhaan hurtled himself down slides into the ball pit, or climbed monkey bars and bridges.  the joy of not worrying about sharp edges or the boy hurtling himself into a wall or running away from me and sticking his fingers into an electric socket or climbing up the fridge chasing an animal , Oh all the joy! that a nearly 4 year old brings to your life. SO YES SURROUND YOURSELF WITH RUBBER AND INFLATABLE PLASTIC, PERHAPS WITH SOME NETTING AND   A SECURITY GUARD AT THE ENTRANCE. Damn so this is what being in a padded cell is all about. Best two hours ever! I have never felt safer and more content.

We returned to Delhi
and I started yoga classes where I discovered there are three Pakistanis in my class...perhaps the Aman Ki Asha is mostly asanas.
I had hidden the paper puppet Sita (of the pulling her ghunghat to her knees fame) before leaving Delhi so on our return we had one week of a paper Lakhan calling out Sita is Lost. Sita is Lost Againnn. Though when Arhaan's Lakhan called out I WILL FIND YOU SITA , it sounded like a threat.  Walks Stealthily, Hoarse Whisper. 

Arhaan turned 4.
In keeping with the past year's (and the year before that, and the...gulp!) theme we took a cake to school and had-no-party-afterwards.

But we did take him and a friend to the National Rail Museum, where they went totally crazy, but it was fun. And they played Hindi film songs about all things trains (yes! they played Mere Sapno Ki Rani , also 'Jaipur se nikli gaaRi, Dilli challi halle halle') There were the standard issue "Weigh Yourself" apparatus and Arhaan's weight came printed out on a card that categorised him as a shy, peaceful sort, and the film star Govinda . Yup, his expression in the last pic says it all

And some time in Feb I came down with a terrible terrible Im Ready For My Last Rites To Be Administered bug, and I was up nights worrying how Arhaan will grow up to whimper "and my mum never made it to any of my birthday parties" 
so I planned a picnic,  where my friends could sing a song for him as a present, and someone could put up some children's theater, and there could be candy floss, and perhaps a monkey and a juggler, until G-man asked isnt that a birthday party YOU want for yourself. 

So I decided upon a day out to the Rail Museum for his friends, followed by a picnic in Nehru park where we could have kites and a football. AND IT RAINED EVERY WEEKEND FOR A MONTH. So this weekend the kids were bundled up to go bowling and they had popcorn and pizza and cake and noodles and chips and Arhaan and his friend fought over one green balloon. Also the birthday boy spent most of the afternoon dancing to D.I.S.C.O in front of the long mirrors. It was noisy and chaotic and they played so much loud (and totally inappropriate after a while) music. We had a Noddy cake and all the kids asked for choice parts "Noddy's eye!" "His hand, his hand". "I WANTED HIS FOOT, BHAAAAAEEEE" ,they  could have totally put the best of Pindi fighting over the qurbani goat to shame. His friends got puppets and books in their goody bags (and most probably Arhaan got beaten up in school the next day for that).
And later Saturday night when we were tired and grubby and hoarse from screaming at each other I kissed him to sleep and asked him what he had liked best about his day. "Oh when I fought with my friend, and we stamped on that balloon. THAT WAS SO GOOD!". Oh well

And now for the song